Pakistan and Military Rule (and a long interview with General Babar)


The following are two posts (originally written many years ago) from the Pakistani military historian and analys Agha Humayun Amin.  It is interesting to y see that nothing has changed since 2002 (the article is from 2002 and the interview is from early 2001, before the fall of the taliban). Anyway, whether you agree or disagree with his analysis, you will always get interesting nuggets of information from Major Amin… The first post is a newspaper article he wrote. the second is a very detailed interview he conducted with General Naseerullah Babar, an outstanding military officer who served as Zulfi Bhutto’s Governor in NWFP, then as Benazir Bhutto’s interior minister and played a role in the Karachi operation against MQM as well as in the setting up of the Taliban (as IGFC he was also involved in setting up the first Pakistani-sponsored insurgency in Afghanistan way back in 1973). He was an eyewitness to many important events and whatever you may think of his views, his interview is an extremely important historical document..

Essence of the Matter
A.H Amin
August 21 2002
Daily Nation , Lahore
While analysis of todays Pakistani politics is outwardly subtle and convincing , serious historical analysis remains the weak point. What is lacking is the long view , the inability to penetrate through appearances, the motivation to write with an ulterior motivation to please or to secure personal business objectives, and worse of all, to criticise simply because a writer has acquired the reputation of a cynic and his writings are read simply because his cynicism provides a catharsis for many! This does not mean that all is well or all military or civil rulers are well meaning reluctant coup makers !

This article is an attempt to capture the crux of the whole issue in a few paragraphs! An ambitious but certainly not impossible endeavour! First of all the basis of modern Indo Pak politics was initially a type of liberal set of beliefs based on faith in British parliamentary system and liberalism mixed with the philosophy of self rule. The British introduced Western democracy in India with a view to afford a vent to the Indians desire for participation and sense of involvement ! The urban professional classes picked it up as a means for self realisation or self advancement ! The feudals picked it up as a means of continuing their unfair advantage or position of influence in the Indian society. The middle classes ran after government jobs as a means of self advancement and economic benefit. The Indian soldiers served in the army as mercenaries motivated by economic benefits and in part propelled by espirit de corps. The politicians came into conflict with the British not because all of them were heroes or martyrs but because it was a struggle for power! The civil servants and mercenary pre 1947 Indo Pak soldiers collaborated with the British because it improved their prospects of self advancement ! The pre 1947 Indian Army , the father of the post 1947 Indian and Pakistan Army had nothing to do with Indo Pak political struggle at least in what they voluntarily or deliberately did less a platoon of Garhwal Rifles which refused to open fire on Muslims demonstrating in Peshawar in 1930 ! After all who was shooting down Indo Pak civilians like partridges in Wana , Razmak ,Sindh and Jallianwalla Bagh other than the British Kings Indian Army ! Four brigades in tribal areas , two brigades in Sindh in the Hur Rebellion! The Indian or Muslim civil servant, soldier and policeman till 14th August (and some to date) were collaborators of the Western power which ruled India till the transfer of power!

The Hindus were better organised politically since the Indian National Congress was dominated by a strong Hindu professional and business class while the Muslims were condemned to be politically more backward since because of peculiar historical reasons Mr Jinnah had no choice but to accept the Muslim feudals who dominated Muslim politics! Mr Jinnah was forced to ally with the Unionists in Punjab and the Sindhi landlords in future against the advice of Punjabi Muslim urban leaders like Dr Iqbal because it was a strategic compulsion. Thus from August 1947 India inherited a strong political culture while The Muslim League was destroyed just a few years after Mr Jinnah’s death by the feudals who had joined it out of fear of land reforms and because of being in debt to Hindu money lenders! Here again economics played a major role ! It has been estimated that in pre 1947 Punjab and Sindh money lending was the most important occupation after agriculture and that while the net revenue of Irrigation Department of Punjab was 267 Lakh Rupees that of money lenders was 500 Lakh Rupees! In 1911 out of a total of 803,560 money lenders in India some 25 % or 193,890 lived in Punjab alone! Thus while the total population of pre 1947 Punjab was one eleventh of India ,it had some one fourth of India’s money lenders! All this ensured that the feudal elements jumped on the Muslim League band wagon not out of genuine motivation but because of economic compulsion!

Now the post 1947 era; While post 1947 Indian Congress leaders like Nehru and Patel chided the Indian Army for their un-nationalistic role in British rule and reduced their basic salary Pakistan was condemned to be ruled by a civil military clique within eleven years of independence! Men who had collaborated with the British before 1947 became Pakistan’s rulers within seven years of Independence! Officials of Indian Audit and Accounts Service like Ghulam Mohammad and Mohammad Ali! Feudals like Kalabagh who before 1947 were faithful servants of a man no higher than the British Deputy Commissioner of Mianwali! Compare the fact that while Nehru abolished Cantonment Boards within no time after independence even today a Pakistani civilian living in a plot of land bought by paying through his nose in a cantonment area lives within perpetual awe of the cantonment boards simply because no Pakistani statesman had the courage or the vision to reduce the military or civil bureucrats to size! Continue reading “Pakistan and Military Rule (and a long interview with General Babar)”